Naofumi isn’t exactly Mr. Moneybags, so he ends up buying a demihuman child by the name of Raphtalia. To be specific, she’s a raccoon girl who has seen some things. Honestly, even if he did have the funds to buy a stronger slave, it seemed as though he had his eyes set on the poor girl as soon as he saw her. Maybe he pitied the child or whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Anyways, Naofumi is predictably cold to Raphtalia at first, but he’s cold to everyone. Nevertheless, he gets her all geared out, buys her food, trains her to become stronger, cuts her hair, comforts her when she has nightmares at night, so on and so forth. Sounds like he’s a decent guy, right? Yeah, but he’s still a slave owner. At the end of the day, she couldn’t disobey him even if she wanted to. Should she even think of acting out, a magical seal will cause her to feel great pain. This is becoming a recurring theme in these isekai series lately. Heroes become slave owners and treat their slaves with kindness, but — and this is important — they always have that insurance in their back pocket. Shameless defenders will undoubtedly cry out, “But have you seen him act badly? Have you seen him ever not act with compassion?!” So that’s it, huh? Until a slaveowner mistreats his slave, it’s A-OK, huh? It’s similar to how these same shows always end up glorifying dictators and overlords. As long as they’re benevolent, it’s fine! No one ever seems to grasp the idea that certain ideas are just wrong out of principle.
Another thing that bugs me about Raphtalia is just how young she is. She isn’t simply a malnourished and thus diminutive girl. She’s literally a child. When they go to a restaurant, he buys her a kids meal. When she sees children her age playing with a ball, he goes and buys her one. She essentially sees Naofumi as a replacement for her parents, which is why she quickly becomes attached to him. At one point in the story, Raphtalia becomes strong enough that she no longer has to grind for EXP on silly balloons. It’s time to move up the ladder and murder cute, furry animals instead. Ah, but y’see, her parents were ruthlessly torn apart by beasts in the First Wave, so the girl has developed a traumatic fear for a couple of things: beasts and blood. Nevertheless, our oh-so-principled hero argues that if the child can’t make herself useful on the battlefield, he’ll have to ditch her and find a more willing slave. Having already lost her real parents, the poor raccoon girl has no choice but to swallow her fear of blood and stab the rabbit. Sure, she didn’t comply because the magical seal on her chest made her obey. But she did comply because she feared being abandoned. At the end of the day, Naofumi used the threat of fear against the child. Even if he is technically telling the truth, that’s not how a parent should act. “Durrr, he’s not her parents.” So then he’s back to just being a slave owner, right? Gotcha.
Eventually, this same sort of thing goes down again near the end of the episode. Both of them have gotten even more levels under their belts, so it’s time to stretch their wings and fly beyond the starter city and see what the rest of the world has to offer them. Plus, new areas mean new loot, and new loot means more money to be made. As a result, Naofumi drags Raphtalia to the mines near the Village of Lute. It’s full of dangerous monsters, but hey, the ores can fetch a few more coins than those herbs our hero has been harvesting. But just as our hero strikes proverbial gold, they are beset by a two-headed dog thing. Since he is the Shield Hero, he has no offensive capabilities whatsoever. We already saw him have trouble against a bunch of balloons in the first episode, so he certainly can’t defeat a beast — even a low level one — on his own. Again, Raphtalia’s going to have to do the dirty work. But again, this situation reminds the girl of her parents’ deaths. So of course, she freezes in place, because — and I know this is a shocker — traumatic fears can actually be really crippling and debilitating. Thankfully, she fears abandonment more than anything. Phew! Good thing Naofumi has that going for him! So just like that, the child leaps into action in order to save her new parent. What’s especially galling about this whole setup is that you just know that she’s going to end up falling for him. The child who eats kids meals and fears being abandoned is going to end up in her new dad’s harem. Gross.
Some people will mistake the words above as outrage. Some people will assume that I’m seething on the inside or whatever. They will then tell themselves that the “outrage” over this show amuses them greatly. Well, whatever works for you.